Make a real connection to your Irish heritage
Feeling like you could never crack Irish Gaelic?
Break it down into easy Bitesize portions, with the free "Irish for Beginners" email course by Bitesize Irish Gaelic.
Enter your name and email address below to get started (and we'll never spam you):
Lesson by "The Irish People"
Our next stage
of pronunciation review covers the consonants "c" and "g".
have two sounds, depending on whether the nearest vowel in the word
is in the group of "a", "o", "u" or
in the group of "e", "i". The explanation for
this (which you need not remember) is that the "a, o, u"
group sounds are formed farther back in the mouth than the "e,
i" group sounds. The tongue and mouth positions for the two groups's
sounds make it easier for a speaker to pronounce such adjacent letters
as "c" and "g" in two different ways. This occurs
in English speech, too, although it is not as extensive as in Irish.
Notice how differently you pronounce the (k) sound in "king"
and in "cold". The "k" in king is next to an "i",
and it is natural for you to pronounce it differently from a "c"
next to an "o". Now try exchanging the (k) sounds, pronouncing
"king" with the (k) from "cold" and "coat"
with the (k) from "king".
adjacent to "a, o, u" vowels are called broad consonants.
Slender consonants are near "e, i" vowels. The Irish sounds
for "c" and "g" are much like the sounds you already
know in English, and you can transfer the English sounds. Later, if
you wish to make a minor improvement in your pronunciation of the
slender "c" and "g", pronounce them with the tip
of the tongue against the inside of the lower front teeth, which is
probably slightly different from your English pronunciation.
Here is a practice
series of word groups. In each group, an English word comes first
and contains the broad or slender (k) sound of the Irish word in the
King; cill (kill),
cell; ceart (kart),
Cold; cos (kuhs),
(ku- PAW*N), cup.
Clod; cluas (KLOO-uhs),
board; clois (klish),
Clip; clis (klish)
fail; cliste (KLISH-te),
Now try these
words, making sure that you watch to see whether an "a, o, u"
or an "e, i" vowel is nearest to the "c":
is pronounced like a "c", except that the vocal cords are
made to hum during the sound. To see how the two sounds of "g"
are made, pronounce English "go" and "give". If
the nearest vowel is "a, o, u" pronounce the "g"
as in English "go". If the nearest vowel is "e, i",
pronounce the "g" as in English "give".
Try these: garda
(GAHR-duh), guard; geata (GAT-uh), gate; gol (guhl), crying; géar
(gay*r) sharp; glan (gluhn), clean; glic (glik), clever; grá
(graw*), love; grian (GREE-uhn), sun. Our pronunciation guide usually
does not indicate whether the consonants get their broad or slender
sound. You must learn to watch for this yourself, noting the nearest
vowel in the word.
buachaill (BOO-uhk*-il) boy capall (KAHP-uhl) horse cosán (kuh-SAW*N)
sidewalk Feminine Nouns cluas, an chluas (KLOO-uhs, un K*LOO-uhs)
ear bó, an bhó (boh, un vwoh) cow bán (baw*n)
white gorm (GUH-ruhm) blue buí (bwee) yellow uaine (oo-IN-e)
green (for cloth, etc.) dearg (DYAR-uhg) red dubh (doov) black glas
(glahs) green (for grass) donn (doun) brown corcra (KOHR-kruh) purple.
To use "tá"
and "is" confidently, you must have a good idea of the conditions
under which you use one or the other of these verbs. "Tá"
tells where a person or object is and what it is doing (the verbal
noun can follow "tá"). "Tá" also
serves to describe a person or object by introducing adjectives. For
examples of these usages: Tá sé anseo. He is here. Tá
sé ag dul amach. He is going out. Tá sé fuar.
It is cold. Select "is" when you want to say that a person
or object is in a fairly permanent class, or when you want to identify
a person or object as being the specific one about whom you are talking.
Céard é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh) What is this? is one
question calling for "is". Is bosca é, or: is bosca
beag é, are answers. Here are other examples: Is feirmeoir
Seán (is fer-im-OH-ir shaw*n) John is a farmer. Is garda an
fear sin, that man is a guard. Is fear mór Séamas, James
is a big man. An Meiriceánach tú? Are you an American?
Nach scoláirí sibhse? (nahk* skuh-LAW*-ree SHIV-she),
arn't you students? Note the word order. What the person or thing
is comes first, then the person or thing. To give a name to someone,
or to say that a person of thing is the specific one, reverse the
Who are you? Is
míse Máirín. Ní míse Bríd.
Cé hé sin?
Who is that? Is
é sin Brian. Ní hé sin Séamas. Cé
Who is this? Is
í sin Máire. Ní hí seo Nóra. Is
é seo mo nuachtán (shay* shuh muh NOO-uhk*-taw*n), this
is my paper. Ní hé sin an nuachtán eile (nee
hay* shin un NOO- uhk*-taw*n EL-e), that is not the other paper. Notice
the difference in word order in: Is bord é sin, that is a table.
Is é sin an bord (shay* shin un bohrd), that is the table.
We will have more practice with the next update.
you like to learn Irish Gaelic with audio pronunciation?
can really start to learn to speak Irish with Bitesize Irish Gaelic.
It's a full online learning program.
Then take the free
for Beginners email course by Bitesize Irish Gaelic. Every couple
of days, you'll get a mini-series of free Irish language lessons. Each
lesson is full of interactive audio recordings.
- Would you like
to make a connection with Ireland?
- And speak the
native language of the Irish?
- Do you find
it difficult to learn from reading only text?
Irish with Irish for Beginners, by Bitesize Irish Gaelic.
<<back to top of page>>
(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.